A Greenpeace petition signed by nearly 16,000 people was delivered to Parliament today calling for the New Zealand government to stop the import of products that are linked to forest destruction and human rights abuses.

Greenpeace International forest campaigner Grant Rosoman presented the petition to Green Party MP Eugenie Sage, along with Greenpeace activists holding large colourful photographic depictions of the forests in question and the harm that’s being done to them.

“The world is facing twin climate and biodiversity crises and protecting forests is critical for addressing both. If we don’t stop deforestation globally, then we will not meet the Paris Climate Agreement commitments nor stop runaway climate change,” says Rosoman. 

“It may come as a surprise to many New Zealanders that they may be buying products linked to destruction of tropical forests that are home to endangered species such as orangutan and jaguar, and are the customary homes of Indigenous people.” 

These products could be dairy products containing palm oil or from dairy cows fed on palm kernel expeller (PKE), chocolate, coffee, toilet tissue, leather, timber, furniture, viscose fabric, or even natural rubber condoms or aircraft tyres.

“New Zealand needs to follow the leadership shown by the European Union with its recent Deforestation Regulation to deal with its responsibility as a nation for the destruction of forests worldwide through the products we import,” says Rosoman.

The EU recently just passed a ‘no deforestation’ regulation covering seven commodities and derivative products (palm oil, wood, cattle, soya, cocoa, coffee and rubber). The law requires companies to trace these commodities back to the plot of land where they were produced and provide evidence via a Due Diligence process by importers of no deforestation after 2020.

The world’s forests are home to millions of indigenous people who are on the frontlines of forest protection. The forests are vital habitat for incredible biodiversity, such as Sumatran tigers, gorillas, birds of paradise, and fungi. The integrity of the world’s forests is vital for halting climate change. Between 1990 and 2020, some 420 million hectares of forest have disappeared – an area 15 times the size of Aotearoa.

“This year the New Zealand Government had an opportunity to address deforestation in the recent Forest (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill but instead completely missed the boat by simply requiring the bare minimum that wood products only are sourced legally. This leaves us back in the last century compared to the EU and leaves consumers faced with difficulties in choosing deforestation free products due to the lack of transparency and regulation,” says Rosoman. 



Imported products that may be linked to Deforestation and human rights abuses:

Animal Feed: Palm Kernal Expeller (PKE) and Soybean meal: New Zealand imported over 2 million tonnes worth $800 million of PKE in 2022 for the dairy industry from Malaysia and Indonesia, accounting for over half of the animal feed imported into the country. PKE is linked to deforestation and breaches of regulations in Indonesia. NZ also imported soybean meal, mostly from Argentina (where there is deforestation of the Chaco forest for soya expansion) . 

Palm oil and derivatives: used in up to 50% of manufactured products on supermarket shelves including baked products, chips, margarine, icecream, homecare products and cosmetics. 

Cocoa: chocolate products. Ivory Coast and Ghana are the largest producers and expansion of cocoa plantations has caused significant deforestation

Coffee: global demand for coffee is driving expansion of coffee plantations at the expense of forest. 

Paper, tissue and packaging products: copy paper, tissue paper, card, cardboard and packaging, from plantations that have cleared forests. 

Viscose fabric: made from dissolving wood pulp that is from plantations that have cleared rainforests, such as in Indonesia

Natural Rubber: used to make condoms, rubber gloves, and tyres. Expansion for rubber plantations is clearing rainforests.

Timber and furniture: can be from sources that are clearing the rainforest or plantations that have recently cleared rainforest.

Leather: globally, clearance of rainforests for cattle is the largest cause of deforestation. The leather ends up in shoes, furniture, car seats etc.